Archive: September 2014

Traceability & Control post Elliott Review

Elliott ReviewAfter a delay for the summer parliamentary recess the Elliott Review Final Report has now been published and Professor Elliott will present his findings at the Association of Public Analysts annual meeting this month. A Zero tolerance of food crime is one of eight integrated recommendations of the report, which also highlights the important role of analysis. For example, the Government should be encouraging industry to conduct sampling, testing and supervision of food supplies at all stages of the supply chain. Within the Laboratory Services recommendation the need to have standardised, validated approaches is also stated. Additionally, the distinction between sampling and testing is made within the Audit recommendation and a call for product sampling to be conducted by auditors even if samples are only retained and not analysed. The Government response and discussion of these topics has just begun; meanwhile, the Food Standards Agency has a proposal under consideration for a threshold for meat species contamination separate to its established 1% Action Limit for threats. When a content of undeclared meat species is between the equivalent of 0.1% and 1.0% (w/w) it is proposed that the causes should be investigated and corrected by the producer. In a recent study published in the Journal of the Association of Public Analysts the Limit of Detection (LOD) of three methods used by official control laboratories during the 2013 Horsemeat surveys was verified. All three methods were based on PCR and were able to detect 0.1% w/w raw horse meat in raw beef meat. But PCR is not the only choice of method. During this time, industry and official laboratories also used microplate ELISA among their testing methods. In our laboratories, when analysing raw meat samples the estimated LOD of microplate ELISA (using a standardised Cut-Off factor of 2.5) is significantly below 0.1% (w/w). In order to verify equivalence between these two different approaches a direct comparison under standardised conditions – preferably using Reference Materials at an appropriate level – would help to provide assurance that the probability of detecting a species is the same in both.

Posted in Speciation

ISO 9001:2008

ISO 9001Bio-Check (UK) announce that they have been granted ISO 9001:2008 approval. For most organisations there is an inevitable sigh of relief as the certificate is nailed to the wall to augment others. However, Bio-Check started the initiative to meet customer requirements, which is after all one of the fundamentals of the standard: enhancing customer satisfaction. Bio-Check felt this was one of the standards which the company should hold because it is recognised by its growing international customer base. Furthermore, the culture of ISO standards is familiar to Bio-Check’s staff because of their work in other, highly regulated organisations. Phil Goodwin, Managing Director commented ‘We know the importance to our business and customers of improving the value of our product and service offering. Todays’ markets are highly competitive and increasingly regulated; the product innovations we are introducing, coupled with operational efficiencies, seek to enhance the positive experience of our loyal customers. ISO 9001:2008 is not only external recognition of our focus but is also part of our long term commitment to endeavour to excel.’

Posted in About us

Mycotoxin risk this summer

20140731_132212In the UK, the more unsettled weather in August made farmers reconsider the potential mycotoxin risk for harvest time. The weather was often localised, affecting the assessment and necessitating the HGCA’s  timely warnings to farmers. Yields are reported as good, though with some effects on quality, however the status of some mycotoxin levels (e.g. DON, ZON, HT-2 and T-2) has not yet been reported. The RASFF Annual report for 2013 recorded that notifications for ochratoxin levels in dried figs and dried vine fruit were up significantly on the previous year, though overall notifications for mycotoxins in food and feed were down. The overall decrease was mostly due to a decline in aflatoxin notifications in peanuts and dried figs from India and Turkey respectively. However, notifications on aflatoxins in maize from southern Europe were highlighted due to severe drought. Aflatoxin levels were above maximum levels when tested at import or in the market, illustrating the problems of ineffective sampling. The nature of mycotoxin contamination is heterogenous and therefore business operators need to ensure that any sample tested is representative of the lot. Vicam’s new Vertu™ system (for Total aflatoxin, fumonisins, DON, Aflatoxin M1) does seek to partly address issues of sampling by offering a low cost, rapid onsite option for industry to use. The test takes just 12 minutes to screen samples to a detection limit of 2ppb and quantify levels up to 100ppb, making it suitable for use to ensure legal compliance. It is simple and safe to perform onsite, requiring minimal expertise and no toxins are used to calibrate the system. All results can be downloaded and manipulated for real-time decision making as well as for later trending. The recently introduced Afla-V AQUA even removes the need to work with hazardous solvents. These benefits are already being appreciated by existing users of the Vertu™ system for onsite mycotoxin control.

Posted in Mycotoxins